In what could be the best use of heat mapping since Predator, former NASA JPL Engineer Mark Rober has patented the Heat Map Microwave: a microwave that uses an infrared camera and LCD screen to visualize how well-cooked your food is.
The idea here is so straight forward, it’s the kind of thing 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghey would slap himself for not having thought up first. In essence, the Heat Map Microwave is a regular microwave with an infrared camera inside, giving a bird’s eye view of your food as it cooks. Instead of having to remember to flip your burrito halfway through, you can just look at the heat map displayed on what would normally be a microwave’s window to see if it’s been cooked the whole way through.
As Rober imagines the Heat Map Microwave, it would come with a connected app that would allow you to check your frozen lasagna or Hot Pocket without having to get up, as well as tell you when your food is done. If your smartphone beeps and you can see your food still has blue thermal spots, you can just tap a button to add more nuking time, without even having to put Netflix on pause.
Although the Heat Map Microwave is just a concept for now, Rober isn’t just some rando wannabe inventor. He’s a proven NASA engineer who has worked on, among other things, the Mars Curiosity Rover. And while the Heat Map Microwave isn’t a commercial venture yet, Rober says he’s working with investors to bring it to market, but without the usual Kickstarter panhandling. Instead he’s asking anyone who is interested in the idea to sign up for a mailing list here.
Of course, an infrared microwave isn’t going to solve all of the annoyances of nuking your food. Microwaves will still heat up food unevenly, and even if you wait until a heat map shows you your frozen chimichanga is heated all the way through, parts might get burnt without proper flipping. Still, I can confidently say that if Rober makes this product a reality, he’ll make millions on the stoners-with-the-munchies demographic alone.
For the full rundown, check out Gizmodo‘s interview with Rober here to learn more about his plans for the Heat Map Microwave.